Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fog City

If I had the answer I'd gladly share it. I'm getting older and very near the end of my quest. Answers or understanding, have become infinitely more clear, as filtered through the lens of life experiences. Working at being mindful seems less arduous now that I'm retired. Day to day responsibilities can distract one, and cause unnecessary anxiety. Appointed solitude, a welcome by-product of aging, definitely softens a bad attitude. Clearing the way for joy and gratitude, of all things within arms reach, and beyond. So I sit here, looking out, watching the human "race" sail by on the river of time, and I'm calm. Here I need a segue, but lacking one I'll just continue.
      Events of the past couple months, (family) have created an emotional roller coaster ride. I won't bore you with the sordid details, although the drama of it all is worthy of being a short story. My son might be persuaded to put pen to paper, and secure it's place for posterity. Ultimately, I've inadvertently been blessed. A wonderful young woman has come into my life, and her name, Reina implies royalty, and she certainly carries herself regally. She comes bearing a gift, the gift of life. You see I'm going to be a grandfather, and there is no greater joy. So I thank her, and I hope our recent encounter is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship. We didn't know, but feeling the baby, our hands formed a heart. Cosmic!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Karakorak: A Portrait of the Hipster by Anatole Broyard

Karakorak: A Portrait of the Hipster by Anatole Broyard: A Portrait of the Hipster by Anatole Broyard First published in Partisan Review , June 1948. As he was the illegitimate son of the Los...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fog City

Cassidy responded to a noteworthy observation by Lisa Bloom. This astute influence, he then shared with family members, for future consideration. That's my boy!

How to talk to little girls, huh? It's gotta be simple, right? Just put them in a cute outfit and tell them they're pretty. Easy enough, right?

I thought the link (above) is an interesting read (written by Lisa Bloom, Attorney and Best selling author) about some of the habits and traditions we incorporate in our actions and in our speech; and how these things simply happen without even thinking about them (telling our female children and grandchildren how pretty and cute they are). But when you think about the reasoning/traditions behind just the simple "you look so pretty" to a little girl, you start to realize that we've all been conditioned by society, by marketing, by consumerism, and by ideologies generations old. Well done, America. Well done. But we're onto you now!

With each new generation, young men and women are becoming more aware and more educated. Lauren and I were taught at Berkeley (shout-out to our parents for encouraging us to go there!) to look at life through a different lens, one that challenges our perceptions of society, and how gathering as much information as possible before making decisions can provide us with the best foundation for those decisions (one easy example is our decision to use in-home preschool platforms for our girls' education; and what if we followed the norm and went with your standard traditional preschool? Well, by thinking outside the box, we've afforded Ashby the opportunity to be practically 2 years ahead of pace from what those traditional systems offer). Simply put, doing what everyone else is doing is easy. Being traditional is easy. Blending in is easy. Yet, thinking outside of the box can sometimes be challenging, yet more rewarding.

The above link is about the simple way we speak to the young girls in our world (and for Lauren and myself, how we speak to Ashby and Reese): telling them they're pretty, or adorable, or cute, or beautiful, or anything having to do with their looks. It doesn't seem harmful, right? After all, we all think they're cute, right? But as we begin to understand why we speak to young girls this way, we begin to realize that we've all been conditioned to believe that for little girls, physical beauty has value; or that it's IMPORTANT at all. After all, they're our own personal human dolls to dress up and show-off, right? There's nothing wrong with being proud. We all are! But for us (and for many who agree with the article), it's how much emphasis is placed on their looks that can become a long-term issue for our beautiful (on the inside) girls. That physical-appearance value is then absorbed into their psyches and becomes what they see as valuable. After all, telling them they're pretty shows them that the adults in their world value it. So they should too.

But as we start to think outside the box, we'll begin to realize that telling little girls they're pretty is not doing much for them; if anything, it can be detrimental to how they perceive themselves. De-valuing physical appearance, even at this young age, will give them the self-confidence necessary to ignore and de-value what society, consumer-America, and what both the boys & girls in their lives are going to throw at them as they grow up; and it will help us all gain a new perspective on what's been ingrained in all of us since American mass media/marketing techniques became a mainstay of consumer culture since the post second-world-war era.

Wow, did I really just tie American History and commercialization with telling a little girl she's pretty? Yep. Like I said, before: well done, America. Your little subconscious mission for us to condition our girls to love pink so you can create the pink toy section at every store in America and make us buy more "things" is beginning to deteriorate. At least with the Raher family! And don't get me started on the Disney princess phenomena! Talk about consumerism at its finest. What value does a "princess" have in the real world: nothing. Do we live in England? And even if we did, if you're not born into royal heritage, growing up to be a princess is a worthless concept. But it sells tickets, and toys, and clothes, and concepts to little girls. Well, they're not selling those concepts to the Raher girls. The only good thing for Ashby about the hit song "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen is she's singing her little lungs out everyday, and that I can support!

Of course our Raher girls own pink clothes, and they receive pink gifts; but they also get to press the hand-drill when I'm doing a project, and they get to help "pop" spiders when their mom runs away from them; and they get to play in the mud and get dirty; and they are always encouraged to paint, draw, scribble, sing, dance, read, run, scream and use their minds whenever possible. 

Here's a neat Verizon commercial about the domino effect of keeping girls "girls":

And finally: a special shout out to my brother, Brendan, and his wife, Elise who are some of the best people we know at thinking outside the box! Hell, within 3 months, they just left San Francisco and bought a house in Portland! Talk about not doing things the traditional way! But they've established what they value in life, and they make that the focal point of their energies and efforts. And when it comes to interacting with our family, Brendan and Elise have always been great with Ashby, asking her what's on her mind, encouraging her to move and run and dance and sing and laugh. And then joining in with her. Our Raher ways/mindset can be attributed entirely to one of the greatest think-outside-the-box people ever: Grandma Kooky!  Thanks Grandma Kooky for making even my mind explode with all your "kooky" ideas! You're a think-outside-the-box pioneer. If they gave gold medals for thinking outside the box, Grandma Kooky would not only hold the olympic record, she'd be the national team coach. 

To our extended family: thanks for taking the time to just understand, and reflect, and help us encourage our little girls to think outside the box too!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fog City

Since I'm slightly obsessed with posting, sharing, publicizing, and linking my activities, here is another attempt. I received my first copy of my new book, and Christine recorded the opening ceremony. My excitement is never too ostentatious, and I was a bit tongue tied. But hey, that's what this blog is for, putting down any and all of my thoughts and, or actions.

Fog City

A few things, (I love using the word thing, it expresses and defines all of what I want to say and can't find the word or words), stand out from the recent  past. Some I can illuminate with photos and some I can't. I'll start with a phenomenon which has caused me much concern and anxiety. As my family and friends know, (and probably the only people who might actually read this), I have Hep C, which advances slowly yet inexorably. The new year has brought forth a rash of new and effective drugs, which all pharmaceutical companies are racing to get approved and market. Very costly I might add. I've reconnected with my doctor and done all the preliminary screening, and with my constant prodding, shall soon embark on another treatment. We are just waiting for the FDA to approve the drug I will combine with an already approved drug. What makes these new drugs better? Well the success rate is virtually 100%, the treatment length is 3 months, instead of 12, with no injections, oral only, and the side affects are less debilitating. So that's that!
    Now, we were downtown running an art errand. After that interesting encounter concluded, we decided to walk around the corner to the John Spence Gallery and view the art on display. Most of the remarkable paintings were well out of my price range, except one. One of the last viewed struck my fancy and I immediately inquired about purchasing it. Ironically the person I asked, who was working the desk, happened to be the artist. He was pleasantly surprised and we had a explanatory chat. The young artist was a graduate of the Art Academy, like most of the artists whom I've collected. It was a perfect meld for both of us.